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Unread 09-17-2018, 07:53 PM
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Erika.Swagner18 Erika.Swagner18 is offline
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Tips on how to become a good coach.

This year I would like to be a coach for my team's drive team, I've been watching old match videos and looking over strategies. What other things do you guys recommend I do to be the best coach I can be?
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Unread 09-17-2018, 08:18 PM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Some things I've found useful:
  • The drivers know best what their preference are for controllers and control schemes.
  • It is always help to review your previous matches to look for ways in which the drive team can improve. Having someone record your matches so you can do immediate playback is very valuable for this, as well as to help you critique and adjust autonomous routines.
  • Have a pre-match checklist for checking everything on the robot from bumper color, tight set screws, plugged in wires, and a fresh battery. Also, time permitting, turn the robot on and do a systems check before each match to ensure every mechanism is operating correctly. Ideally, do this systems check in the pit and not the que, they won't always let you turn your robot on and move it in que.
  • Make sure they all have their cell phones on, charged, and check them frequently as well as knowing which matches you are in and when they are.
  • Communication is the most important thing. Often new drivers are hesitant to talk to one another. Encourage them to do so. Communication is a two way street however. As Drive Coach one of the most important things you can do is relay info to them about the time left in the match, where they can find the next field element, and when they should be doing something (for this year when to go line up and climb).
  • Make sure they stay fed (on my team often times different groups of people eat at different times during competition), and hydrated.
  • After hard losses let them have time to blow off steam. Sometimes they will feel personally responsible for losing a match, and you need to let them work through that while comforting then when appropriate. On a related note we make it very clear on our team that if anyone on the team (team parents especially) has an issue with our stategy or performance in a match that they keep those comments to themselves, or if need be express them solely to the drive coach, not the students.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are others on this board with much more experience than me.
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Last edited by Nick.kremer : 09-17-2018 at 08:50 PM.
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Unread 09-17-2018, 08:29 PM
jasminemw jasminemw is offline
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

I was drive coach for the first time this year. One of the most important things that I've found is figuring out the way that each driver likes being directed and spoken to. Some drivers will need help with rights and lefts when driving toward you, others will just want broad directions like "go get that cube and put it there". Some drivers want to be left alone after a bad match, some will want you to be slightly critical in your post-match review. Basically, learn how your drivers like receiving direction and like being spoken to, and what they hate or doesn't work for them.

An additional piece of advice, driver station has a timer on it if you can't see the big screen-- I use it to count down the end of auto.
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Unread 09-17-2018, 08:38 PM
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Erika.Swagner18 Erika.Swagner18 is offline
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Thank you guys, this is very helpful advice!
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Unread 09-18-2018, 11:47 AM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

I found that the best coaches look at anything BUT your team's bot. When I coach I focus on callouts- specifically looking at time, score, and how our team can either recover or keep the lead with the time remaining while keeping aware of what every other bot is doing on the field.

For the 2018 game, I mostly looked at switch and scale control, where cubes were on the field, and what all the bots were working on. From this I was able to tell drivers whether a specific element was a viable scoring objective or a lost cause and reroute them to a possibly better task be it defense or whatnot.

Feel free to ask more questions or PM me about anything drive team related.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 08:23 PM
Seth Mallory Seth Mallory is offline
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messer5740 View Post
I found that the best coaches look at anything BUT your team's bot. When I coach I focus on callouts- specifically looking at time, score, and how our team can either recover or keep the lead with the time remaining while keeping aware of what every other bot is doing on the field.

For the 2018 game, I mostly looked at switch and scale control, where cubes were on the field, and what all the bots were working on. From this I was able to tell drivers whether a specific element was a viable scoring objective or a lost cause and reroute them to a possibly better task be it defense or whatnot.

Feel free to ask more questions or PM me about anything drive team related.
This is so true. GRT won Arizona North 2017 because our coach did this. The driver in most matches has tunnel vision and cannot see far from the robot. If the coach can study the rest of the field and advise the driver the result is awesome. If the coach watches their robot they mite as well be in the stands. GRT has students coach and with training they do a very good job.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 08:54 PM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Don't micromanage. Your drivers are competent. Trust/train them to a point where you can give them high-level commands like "get the nearest cube and put it in the scale", rather than having to specify exactly which cube they have to grab.

Make sure they communicate with one another and make sure that you communicate the information that they cannot see to them. E.g. for this year, call out when somebody has taken your switch or scale since your drivers should be focused on the robot and not the field.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 11:28 PM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick.kremer View Post
  • It is always help to review your previous matches to look for ways in which the drive team can improve. Having someone record your matches so you can do immediate playback is very valuable for this, as well as to help you critique and adjust autonomous routines.
  • After hard losses let them have time to blow off steam. Sometimes they will feel personally responsible for losing a match, and you need to let them work through that while comforting then when appropriate.
When I began mentoring my replacement coach I didn't have the option of video review. Instead I relied on asking each member of the drive team three specific questions.
  • 1. What went right? I asked them this to force them to see that not everything was bad, even when we played a terrible match.
  • 2. What went wrong? Nobody is perfect and if something went wrong chances are the driver is thinking about that one thing. If they can get it off their chest then they can begin to move on.
  • 3. What will you do differently next time? This doesn't have to relate to question number two. I do this question for two reasons.
  • By forcing them to think about the solution to something problematic, I've found it helps them prepare for the next match.
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting different results. I want a crazy drive team, not an insane one! Focusing on one change is easier than focusing on the million and one things that happen on the field every match. Sometimes one small change is all that was needed to fix all the other little problems.
Clear communication before, during, and after a match are all very important as it helps better performance and reduce frusturation.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 11:43 PM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

One thing to do as a coach is to make sure to know the rules and figure out what/why you're getting penalties (if you are). Then you can tell the drivers when it's time to get out of a problem issue if you can see something happening.
And I will say, very clearly, that two of the worst legit fouls I've ever seen called have been coaches acting like the Human Player, and doing things that would have gotten the Human Player fouled.
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Unread 09-18-2018, 11:50 PM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Make sure that your drivers aren't stressing out. It's imperative that your drivers remain calm and in control especially when on the field. I've been on both ends of the spectrum. Feel free to pm me if you have any questions.
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Unread 09-19-2018, 12:22 AM
RoboAlum RoboAlum is offline
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Study the Game Manual then quiz your drive team. Create scenarios that exploit your weaknesses. Build an additional robot to allow a full experience of 1v1 or shutdown defense. Try to know your moves and how it can be included into your alliances goals. Time callouts and strategic callouts i.e trapping opposing alliance behind your switch. Pre and post match checklist is huge, it cost me a trip to Einstein in 2011 when I was with 71.
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Unread 09-20-2018, 07:01 AM
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JesseK JesseK is offline
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

Here are some of my thoughts on day-of tips that help with the 6 minutes of on-field time during a match:

1. Ensure that the robot is set down on the field the same way, every single match. You should recognize individual carpet fibers by the end of the tournament. If you aren't late to the field, there is always time to ignore the FTA who's telling you to turn the robot on before you've set it down properly.
2. Don't yell. Ever. Period. Be emphatic, excited, and enthusiastic; but don't yell.
3. Make sure the drivers get sleep. Many an upset happens at Worlds because drivers stay up late.
4. Assist the team in whatever it takes to make the robot work. This takes some leadership skill - wading through the opinions, building up people so they can take responsibility, and getting the group to make a decision in a way that keeps everyone motivated.
5. Record every match. Debrief with the pit crew on what didn't work right on the robot (try not to tell the pit crew what exactly is broken; their root-cause analysis will bring that out). Dissect the video with the drivers in order to figure out how to communicate better. With discipline and practice, this can easily happen in the 6 minutes following a match.

6 minutes is important - it is how much time your team has between (non-Einstein) Finals matches.
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Last edited by JesseK : 09-20-2018 at 07:05 AM.
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Unread 09-20-2018, 09:14 AM
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Re: Tips on how to become a good coach.

I had the pleasure of working with a phenomenal drive coach this year. He was an inspiration to be coached under, and was absolutely amazing.

I agree with pretty much everything said above, although I stress a few points:

1) Establishing a good and communicative relationship with your drivers. I can't stress enough how much a power-hungry drive coach that won't take no for an answer negatively affects an alliance as a whole.

2) Micromanagement SUCKS, and you should be encouraging your drivers to need as little on-field-robot-specific coaching as possible, possibly encouraging the operator to play a micromanagement role (as in the operator would say "let's get that cube there" to the driver, allowing you as a coach to watch the rest of the field).

3) Pay attention, and establish clean, clear, and concise callouts that you and your drive team could adhere to in your sleep. My favorite from 2018 was calling out "40 Seconds!", because that was the time the alliance (or our team) starts shifting gears for climbing.

Now I have some stuff to add:

1) Take care of yourself, and take care of your drivers. Make sure you ate lunch, and ask your drivers after every match "hey are you good on food?" Carry Clif Bars, or whatever snack your drive team enjoys that also fits in pockets. As an operator who was caught up in the moment and skipped lunch/dinner at worlds, it meant a lot to me to hear "are you good on food? Do you need anything?" from coaches. It was very heartwarming.

MAKE SURE your drivers are sleeping properly (although forcing someone into bed is not advisable), and MAKE SURE YOU are sleeping properly.

And watch FUNalysis. That helps a lot.
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